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San Francisco Giants: Does Brian Sabean have a hidden agenda?

By Mark ONeill
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Where do the San Francisco Giants stand in the greater scheme of things, when it comes to competing for a postseason slot during the 2015 season? It depends on whether the goal is the division title or a wild card spot, because many believe that there will only be one team from the National League West in the playoffs, so the main objective had better be to capture the flag.

Why would there be only one team from the NL West in the playoffs? Whereas examining preseason polls needs to be done with a clear degree of skepticism, the opening rankings have the Los Angeles Dodgers at number four, but then do not feature another Wild, Wild West team until number seventeen, the San Francisco Giants, followed immediately by the San Diego Padres at number eighteen.

In his infinite wisdom, Joel Reuter has ranked the New York Mets sixteenth, Milwaukee Brewers fourteenth, Chicago Cubs twelfth, Pittsburgh Pirates tenth, Miami Marlins sixth, Los Angeles Dodgers fourth, Washington Nationals third and the St. Louis Cardinals first.

Again, preseason polls mean very little to most Giants fans because these folks are accustomed to seeing the Orange and Black disrespected-it would appear to come with the territory.

A challenge is one thing, the impossible dream quite another.

Nonetheless, there are eight National League teams rated higher than the Giants, which suggests that if San Francisco does not win the NL West outright, it will be extraordinarily challenging to weasel its way past a passel of potential roadblocks.

In order to garner a win/loss record that surpasses at least four of the eight teams ahead of them in the poll (three division winners and the other wild card team means four of the eight probably already have reservations), San Francisco would have to once again exceed expectations.

Instead of competing against the rest of the league, Brian Sabean would be better off pitting everything against the Dodgers and going for all the marbles to ensure that the Giants first of all succeed in netting a slot in the playoffs, and secondly avoid the potential calamity that is so indelibly affixed to a one-game showdown.

Oct 7, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval reacts after popping out with the bases loaded in the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals during game four of the 2014 NLDS baseball playoff game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

You say Brian Sabean has done everything in his power to sign Pablo Sandoval? And Sabes went after Jon Lester with bells, whistles and a committee of fellow Southerners to lure Lester to AT&T Park, and it still didn’t work? And now he has said that Max Scherzer and James Shields are out of the picture?

How are the Giants supposed to surmount improbable odds to snag a playoff spot if their GM is sleeping at the switch? He must be at least dozing, right? Giants fans heard about every detail of the negotiations from both the Panda’s camp and that of Lester; does that seem like “business as usual” to you?

Never were the details so readily available and at least from Sandoval’s side, so tantalizingly juicy. What disrespect was Pablo’s brother talking about, and why would the Panda jump ship from an apparent drunkard’s dream, his seemingly impenetrable bubble of fan favoritism protecting him from the harsh reality of criticism in San Francisco, to the cold reality of Boston?

The media clips of a shivering Panda debarking from his plane, can’t help but suggest a similarly chilly reception from Sox fans, who might not be so forgiving if Pablo starts out his tenure on the East Coast with a six-week slump. But, hey, what are the chances of that happening?

In past off-seasons Brian Sabean has not seem inclined to shed as much light on his machinations as he has during the current winter. He seems to have had Giants fans’ best interests firmly in hand all along, hasn’t he? Or is it remotely possible the this wily veteran general manager has another agenda he is following, one that is known only to himself and a couple of other individuals? Such as Sandoval’s agent and that of Lester as well?

Sep 30, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jon Lester (31) throws a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning of the 2014 American League Wild Card playoff baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

What if the Giants told both players’ agents outright, that they were not going to sign either star, but were willing to play along to both keep the money on the front burner as an issue, and also to allay fans’ fears that nothing was being done. Everyone wins: the players, the agents, Brian Sabean-everyone, except the fans, that is.

I am not sophisticated enough to have thought this up myself; one of Around the Foghorn’s readers has commented more than once, that he feels Sabean has indeed had an agenda all along, but not the one he would like Giants fans to know about.

Brian Sabean did not get his reputation as being wily, by snoozing alongside the shark-infested waters of the ocean; no, he’s the shark.

No, this agenda Sabean is wielding, is one that has the Competitive Balance Tax, or Luxury Tax, entrenched as the sole item, and that this single agenda item has restricted the team’s forward progress.

Sabean’s reasoning might include the thought that the core group of Giants is so special that they are going to find a way to get it done-or at least be competitive-regardless of whether the team adds another top-level pitcher or not. So why exceed the CBT this season, as opposed to waiting until the current run of success has indeed run its course?

In this manner, having given all pretense of diligently pursuing high level talent, Sabean can shrug his shoulders in frustration, while asking Giants fans to explain exactly what he was supposed to do if players chose to sign elsewhere. After all, slavery went out of vogue a long time ago.

Fiction? Truth? Some blend, thereof? You tell me if it’s possible. Is this wily GM capable of such shenanigans, if indeed they are thus? After all, Brian Sabean is a fox and foxes go after the chicken, in this case the big bucks. Therefore, Sabean is going after the prize.

How many foxes do you know who refuse to consider more than one way to get the chicken?

Apr 1, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean attends the 2013 season-opening game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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